Making a last-ditch effort to retain Carlos Boozer, the Cleveland Cavaliers have offered him a one-year contract worth about $5 million amid reports he will part ways with his agent, The Associated Press has learned.
The power forward's reputation has taken a beating over the past week after he stunned Cleveland by agreeing to a $68 million offer from the Utah Jazz. Days earlier, the Cavs declined to exercise a $695,000 option on Boozer's contract - thereby making him a free agent - in the belief he would accept a 6-year, $41 million deal to remain in Cleveland.
But the move backfired when Boozer, a 1999 Juneau-Douglas High School graduate, reneged on a verbal understanding with the Cavs and decided to take $27 million more from Utah.
Boozer's decision has been heavily criticized around the NBA, with agents and team executives saying it has undermined the mutual trust many of them have for one another.
If Boozer accepts the Cavs' new offer, which was confirmed to the AP by a source close to the negotiations who spoke on condition of anonymity, he would put himself in position to be eligible next summer for an even larger contract than the ones Utah and Cleveland have offered.
Boozer and his agent, Rob Pelinka, did not return phone calls Monday.
Pelinka's boss, Arn Tellem, did not return a call seeking comment on reports that his agency, SFX, has decided to part ways with Boozer in the wake of the contract fiasco.
According to an article by Ian Thomsen on Sports Illustrated's Web site, SFX Sports Group and Pelinka have decided to "fire" Boozer. The story said two league sources told SI.com that SFX was preparing to send a letter Monday to the NBA Players Association stating the sports management agency and Pelinka would no longer represent Boozer.
The sources also said that Tellem made the final call and the agency wants nothing more to do with Boozer because he convinced Cleveland he would re-sign with them if they made him a free agent, SI.com wrote. Pelinka went on to negotiate the deal with the Jazz after a conversation with the Cavaliers.
It's unclear whether Pelinka or SFX would be entitled to its 4 percent commission (about $2.7 million) if Boozer should sign the offer sheet with the Jazz on Wednesday. SI.com said "Boozer may dare SFX to sue him for the commission if he feels he is being hung out to dry by SFX's decision to abandon him."
By making the one-year offer, it appears the Cavaliers are willing to forgive Boozer for a lapse in judgment. He would be able to play out this season in Cleveland, then could negotiate a long-term deal with the Cavaliers next summer when he would again be a restricted free agent.
SI.com said Boozer is left with two choices: Take the big payday from Utah at the risk of ruining his good name; or sacrifice the sure money in order to salvage his reputation in Cleveland.